Zagreb City Assembly endorses agreement to set up reconstruction fund

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(Hina) - Zagreb City Assembly on Tuesday voted for a conclusion of an agreement between the government, the City of Zagreb and the Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb counties to set up a fund for the reconstruction of the quake-damaged buildings and property.

The conclusion was adopted with 42 councillors being in favour and three abstentions.

The agreement specifies that the founder of the Fund is the Republic of Croatia with a share of 70%, City of Zagreb (20%), the Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb counties with a share of 5% each.

The fund will be headed by a nine-member steering committee, and five members will represent the government,  two the City of Zagreb and the two counties each will have one representative

The state will appoint its representatives, one of whom will chair the fund, within fifteen days of the agreement entering into force. The fund's director will be selected through a public call and their appointment will be approved by the steering committee.

"This is one step closer to organise the reconstruction of buildings. It is our duty to start with reconstruction as soon as possible," said Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Darko Horvat who attended the meeting online.

Horvat recalled that the March 22 earthquake damaged almost 26,000 buildings, 24,000 of which are in the Zagreb area.

The damage is estimated at almost HRK 86 billion, he said which is about 60% of the annual state budget.

The Reconstruction Act, adopted on September 11, regulates the manner and procedures for the reconstruction.

Horvat underlined that the government had secured a loan from the World Bank in the amount of $200 million and that European Commission has granted €683.7 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. The first installment as an advance payment of €88.9 million was paid in August.

The minister emphasised that the government had allocated HRK 100 million from the budget for the repair of gable walls, roofs, chimneys, lifts and stairways and an additional HRK 41 million from the Environmental Protection Fund for the procurement of condensing boilers.

According to Horvat, the Fund will also receive funds from the budget.

"Funds have been secured from (my) ministry's budget for 2021 amounting to HRK 903.7 million, 2022 in the amount of HRK 1.3 billion and 2023  HRK 1.9 billion of available funds. The intention is to open channels for co-financing for Zagreb and surrounding counties from EU funds," said Horvat.

SDP called for the fund's chair to be appointed as a state official. "Someone who will be able to make decisions with values of up to HRK three  million independently has to be someone who should answer to the Conflict of Interest Commission," Councillor Matej Misic claimed.

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